The first day of the European Karate Championships ended in the sports hall Žatika. After a day of exceptional fights, we found out the prominent names who will have the opportunity to become be the new European medalists in 2021.

In Female Kata Dilara Bozan from Turkey will clash for the gold against Spain’s Sandra Jaime Sanchez. Turkish karateka surpassed the previous two European Championships results, where she won two bronze medals. Sandra is defending a title as well as a series of five consecutive gold medals. Turkey and Spain will also clash in the Male Kata finals. In the hunt for his seventh consecutive gold medal in Spanish Damian Quintero and his opponent will be Turkey’s Ali Sofuoglu, vice-champion at the three previous European championships and hungry for the gold.

Sandra Sanchez, Photo: Matija Juranović

After an impressive fight in the semifinals Kumite +68kg, Meltem Hocaoglu Akyol from Turkey will face Bulgarian Aleksandra Stubleva in the finals. The last European medal for Stubleva was at the U21 European Championships 2016 so this was a very emotional moment for her. The biggest surprise of this category is possibly the victory of Italia’s Clio Ferracuti against the current European Champion Laura Palacio Gonzales. Clio will in the end fight for the bronze medal as well as Eleni Chatziliadou, current vice-champion.

Aleksandra Stubleva, Photo: Matija Juranović

Current World -68kg queen Irina Zaretska and former European Champion Vicky Panetsidou from Greece made their comebacks in the European Finals. Azerbaijan’s karateka was looking invincible in the pool’s face, confirming the excellent shape she’s showing at the Premier League tournaments lately. Interestingly, only one of the last edition’s medalists will fight for the medals on Saturday. Swiss karateka Elena Quirici and Montenegrin Marina Raković lost in their first performances. The last edition’s champion Alizee Agier of France will fight for the bronze.

Vicky Panetsidou, Photo: Gokhan Taner

In the Kumite Male +84kg category last edition finalists, Jonathan Horne (GER) and Slobodan Bitević (SER) will once again fight for the gold. Azerbaijan’s Asiman Gurbanli will also try to repeat his result and once again take the bronze medal. The only one missing in the picture is Croatian’s Anđelo Kvesić, also bronze medalist from Spain, who unfortunately lost in the quarterfinals.

Jonathan Horne: Photo: Matija Juranović

With a vast amount of world-class brought out fierce fights in the -84kg category. Triple European Champion Ugur Aktas from Turkey will have his chance for another gold. His opponent in the finals will be Azerbaijan’s Panah Abdullayev. Extraordinary was the fight between Aktas and Croatian’s Ivan Kvesić. Although Kvesić lost by 3:2, he still has a chance to win the European medal and is the first Croatian karateka that will compete at the Olympic Games. Aktas’ good performance “pushed” Ivan towards Tokyo and the Olympics through direct placement.

Ugur Aktas, Jan Mastrovic
Ivan Kvesić, Photo: Jan Mastrovic

Female Kumite -61kg category will bring some sensational contests. In the end, Ukrainian Anita Serogina found her way to the finals and she will fight for the European title against Serbians Jovana Preković. In her first fight, Jovana showed what she is capable of with the win against the current European champion Turkey’s Merve Coban. It was Turkish karateka that eliminated Croatian Ana Lenard in the repechage and ended her hope of winning a medal.

The biggest surprise in the -75kg category was Croatian karateka Enes Garibović who defeated great Luigi Busa of Italy in the quarterfinals. His opponent in the semifinals was Ukrainian Stanislav Horuna, another extraordinary karateka who prevailed in that fight. Nevertheless, Enes found his way in the repechage and will fight on Saturday for the bronze medal. Stanislav Horuna and Azerbaijan’s Rafael Aghayev will fight for the highest European karate throne. It will be a battle of the legends.

CLICK HERE and check out all the results from the first day of European Karate Championships.

CLICK HERE and find out official photos from the first day.

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© 56th European Senior Karate Championships
Croatia, Porec - Žatika Sport Centre - May 19 - 23, 2021